Auguste Rodin’s The Three Shades (created 1881-1886, cast 1979-80) is currently on view at in the Rodin Sculpture Garden just off Lomita Drive. The sculpture’s location, pose, scale, and low platform make it particularly vulnerable to visitor damage. Recently, the patina on the base of The Three Shades was extremely abraded. Note the bright golden color of the metal showing through!
(above) The dark brown patina was worn away by visitors standing on the bronze base, probably due to a tempting photo opp.
Wax is an important protective layer for bronze, as it slows down corrosion and serves as a barrier from abrasion, graffiti, and other undesirable occurrences. The Stanford outdoor sculpture conservator and maintenance crew spend much of their time maintaining the coatings on the University’s collection. The wax coating on the base of The Three Shades was painstakingly rebuilt over several days.
(above) Several layers of a pigmented microcrystalline wax were added to the base and buffed afterwards.
So please, don’t step on the art!